Nonprofit to spearhead $1.5 million art program at Memphis International Airport

Memphis International Airport’s $245 million Concourse B modernization project will have an artistic feel, courtesy of a local nonprofit.

During its monthly meeting Thursday, Jan. 16, the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) Board of Commissioners approved a $1.5 million budget for an art program that will be led by the Urban Art Commission.

That contract includes a management fee of 17 % — or $255,000 for services — with the remaining $1.2 million designated for commissioned art pieces.

An art committee that included four board commissioners assisted and directed the development and implementation of the art component for the modernized facility. The board also recommended leaders in the art community volunteer and assist with developing recommendations for the art program.

After several meetings and research by committee members and the community volunteers, the Urban Art Commission was recommended for the contract.

According to MSCAA president and CEO Scott Brockman, the agreement includes the creation of an ongoing art program; identifying locations within the modernized facility where an art component would enhance the passenger experience; reviewing art submissions; commissioning artwork; coordinating installations; assisting the ad hoc art committee with the selection of artists for commissioned pieces, and negotiating contract terms with selected artists for the commissioned pieces.

“We believe this is a good partnership because they have the relationships and the resources to tap into artists that we may have never known about if it wasn’t for [the Urban Art Commission],” Brockman said. “It’s a way to take advantage of that and support a local entity [whose] sole focus is to bring art and to expose art to the community.”

Laura Kennedy, executive director for the Urban Art Commission, said recommendations will include five new site-specific commissions as well as acquiring art for installations throughout the gate areas of the modernized concourse.

Airport officials and the Urban Art Commission expressed the importance of prioritizing local artists, but the artwork will likely include regional and national artists as well, according to Kennedy.

At the meeting, the board also awarded a $139,000 contract to Memphis-based roofing contractor Ark Roofing Co. Inc. for minor roof repairs to its 3505 Tchulahoma facility, which is a former administrative support building.



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